By Ricky L. Calderon

“I hope more directors will be inspired to do more action movies kasi wala na talagang gumagawa ng action film the way we know action films noon.”

King Palisoc
Director King Palisoc / Image:

Tandem Poster

The first full-length film of young and new director King Palisoc, Tandem, his latest film, premiered in last December’s Metro Manila Film Festival, as part of the New Wave category.Written by Zig Marasigan, it is the story of two brothers, Rex (JM De Guzman) and Roman (Nico Antonio), two petty thieves who are partners in all illegal activities.

The movie explores the real-life crime of tandem robberies and hired killers in the Philippines, where men in motorbikes use the chaos of Metro Manila as a means of getting away with their offenses.

As a director, King is more noted with his music videos and TV commercials, to television shows and film. He graduated with a degree in B.A. Communications from the Ateneo de Manila University. Then he went straight to pursue a career in filmmaking, directing music videos for established local acts in the country. He has also worked as a director and writer for the TV show Rakista and became a member of the concept development group for Star Cinema Productions, Inc. where he co-wrote his first feature length film, Babe, I Love You.

He first made his mark in the video industry by earning a nomination for the Music Video of the Year (for Pupil’s “Dulo ng Dila”) at the Awit Awards in 2006, which was also listed as one of the 50 Best OPM Music Videos of all time by FHM Magazine.

In 2008 and 2010, he received awards for the same category at the NU Rock Awards for the music videos of Pupil (Monobloc) and Tanya Markova’s (Disney), respectively.

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In 2012, King started venturing into narrative filmmaking by directing and producing the acclaimed short documentary Paalam Pilipinas (Farewell Philippines). His first short-feature length film entitled Makina(Machine) is the second installment of the crime drama anthology Bang Bang Alley, released in 2014 under Curve Entertainment.     Tandem is his first full-length feature film.

From the original concept of Mikhail Red, the project landed on his  lap after he was contacted by the producers who were on the lookout for a director.

“They (producers) contacted me since they were able to watch my short film Makina. I got Zig Marasigan to be my scriptwriter and from then we developed the script,” related the director.

King said he handpicked the stars themselves. JM De Guzman and Nico Antonio who play brothers. They even had an acting workshop together, while Elora Espano had to audition. He brought in Rochelle Pangilinan to complete the cast as the wife of Nico.

31“Even before we started film, while the script was still in progress, I was already involved in making the story,” King added.

In the course of their research, King discovered that those working as riding in tandem are detached with their families.

“But what interested me in making Tandem is the idea na what if kapatid mo o kadugo mo na kasama mo sa isang delikadong trabaho ang maiipit sa isang sitwasyon. Ano kaya ang gagawin mo? Paano kung involved na ang family mo sa conflict? I think that was what made the story of this film even more interesting. Not just two individuals involved in petty crimes,” he related.

The director went on by sharing that the difficulty in doing an action film is logistics.

”This is an indie film so we don’t really have a huge budget. But wanted to make the action scenes credible. Nagtulung-tulong kaming lahat to meet our budget requirements. Medyo lumaki ng konti ang budget pero indie standard pa rin,” he added.

How is it working with JM who was allegedly figured in a controversial negative publicity?

“Hindi niya kami binigyan ng problema,” he quickly replied. “Other than sobrang galing niya, sobrang professional niya. Alam niya talaga what he wants to do. As person sobrang okay siya. Bonus sa amin na siya ang aming artista. Maganda ang chemistry nila ni Nico. Noong una di ako convinced. Noong pinag-workshop ko sila, kasi kailangan makita ko ang dynamics nila. Kailangan makita ng mga tao na may connect sila bilang magkapatid. Kailangan maniwala ang tao na sila ay magkapatid. They worked well onscreen.”

King said that after watching Tandem, the audience will be driven to think, since he described the story as “not your usual movie about cops.” And he hoped that more Pinoys will watch local movies, not just from Hollywood.

I hope that Tandem makes money so that our producers will be inspired to do more movies,” jested the director.

Produced by Quantum Films, Tuko Film Productions and Buchi Boy Films, Tandem is competing at the Fantasporto International Film Festival in Oporto, Portugal, soon. It had its first world premiere at the Montreal International Film Festival and was also screened at Vancouver International Film Festival and at Cairo International Film Festival.

It got a Grade A from the Cinema Evaluation Board where it was praised for its acting, directing, editing, photography, production design and story. It also won for JM the best actor award at the MMFF New Wave category. Tandem hits theaters on February 17.

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